Holiday Entertaining

by Rona Berg

A James Beard Award-winning chef and author shares recipes and tips for cooking with whole foods.

Feeding a houseful of holiday guests can be stressful. But for Amy Chaplin, chef and author of At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen and the new Whole Food Cooking Every Day, the key is to master a few techniques, stick to whole foods and seasonal recipes and plan ahead.

"Keep it simple,” says Chaplin. “When it comes to cooking for a crowd (possibly with overnight guests as well) and with friends and family spending most of the day/night in your home creating lots of distraction—you must simplify your meal goals,” she continues. “It’s a good idea to make dishes that are doable even with constant interruption while hosting everyone. These are simple blended soups, crunchy bitter green salads, roasted veggie side dishes etc. Rely on gorgeous garnishes to dress things up—like pomegranates seeds, spiced toasted nuts and seeds, micro greens or a good aged balsamic and finishing olive oil —the perfect way to add interest, flavor and beauty to those simple dishes.” 

Born and raised in rural New South Wales, Australia, Chaplin grew up learning to cook with vegetables from her parents’ garden, and whole-food staples from the pantry. But it wasn’t just the way of her family, it was a community affair. “Not only were my parents serious about composting, gardening and making food from scratch, so was the whole community,” says Chaplin. “Social gatherings revolved around great homemade food—in rural New South Wales there were no other options. Eating food made with such high-quality ingredients informed the pure flavors and quality I seek out in my everyday ingredients and meals.”

“It’s a good idea to make dishes that are doable even with constant interruption while hosting everyone.”

Her new book is divided into 20 chapters that focus on basic techniques adaptable to all seasons, and encourage throwing together a meal based on what you have in the pantry. “I would start with the simplest meal prep plan, shop ahead and give yourself a little extra time to get familiar with the recipes,” she says. “These same recipes can be repeated next time using another variation. This way you get comfortable in the kitchen and with the ingredients and techniques while keeping things interesting. Soon you’ll be prepping meals without a recipe!”Enter your text here...

Chaplin, who now divides her time between Brooklyn and upstate New York, was the former long-time executive chef at Angelica’s Kitchen in New York City, a beloved East Village restaurant that set a high bar for vegetarian cuisine. Now a teacher, author and personal chef, Chaplin illustrates in a compelling way that there is nothing boring about healthy food. “In my classes I demonstrate how simple, versatile and elevated healthy food can be. I love to teach methods rather than recipes that can be made with what you have on hand and easily adapted.”  

For the next three Mondays Organic Spa Magazine will be posting some of our favorite recipes from Whole Food Cooking Every Day, perfect for preparing in advance, and feeding a hungry crowd.

You may also like